Epipactis africana Rendle, J. Bot. 33: 252 (1895).
Serapias africana (Rendle) A.A.Eaton, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 21: 66 (1908).
Helleborine africana (Rendle) Druce, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 36: 546 (1909).
Amesia africana (Rendle) A.Nelson & J.F.Macbr., Bot. Gaz. 56: 472 (1913).
Arthrochilium africanum (Rendle) Szlach., Orchidee (Hamburg) 54: 588 (2003).
Epipactis excelsa Kraenzl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 43: 332 (1909).
An erect terrestrial herb up to 3.5 m tall, covered with brownish hairs in most parts. Stem up to 1 cm thick at the base, 2 cm thick in the middle, purplish or bluish green. Leaves arranged along the stem, at intervals of 5-10 cm, lanceolate to ovate, strongly veined, up to 20 cm long, 9 cm wide, the lowermost reduced to sheaths, uppermost bract-like. Inflorescence elongate, with several or many flowers. Flowers hanging, not very conspicuous, greyish purple on the outer surface, greenish yellow within, some orange-brown on the lip; dorsal sepal lanceolate, acuminate, 2 cm long; lateral sepals oblique, ovate, acuminate, slightly longer; petals lanceolate to ovate, up to 2.5 cm long, with a warty, keeled midvein on the outer surface; lip up to 2.5 cm long, hypochile concave, warty, bearing long side lobes, epichile broadly ovate, acute, margins upturned, the warty callus on the midline extending to the base.
In evergreen and bamboo forests on the mountains, also among Pteridium, Erica and patches of coarse grass by mountain streams; recorded from Mt Elgon, the Cherangani hills, Mau forests, Aberdares and Mt Kenya; 2300-3750 m; flowers between October and January.
SW. Ethiopia to N. Mozambique